Game Thread: Knicks vs. Atlanta

Hello again. Didn’t I just write a piece about the Knicks and Atlanta? I did. The Knicks lost. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this piece given the previous outcome, and come to think of it, the next two games the team plays are contests with the Hawks. Game one is at home and a couple of days later the second game is in Atlanta. Might I be double or triple jinxing the Knicks in these match ups? Meh.

I’m going to write to you about talent. Talent is a word used to discuss and describe individual players, and also to discuss and describe entire teams. It’s a word that’s used in the absolutist sense like, “He’s very talented,” or, “That team lacks talent.” Talent is really a more fluid concept when you break it down. Lou Amundson has just as much talent as Lebron James in a given moment. He might run the break, cut to the hoop, and catch an alley oop. In that moment, Lou Amundson maximized his coordination, explosiveness, and fluidity to execute an elegant and powerful basketball maneuver. The chief difference between Lou Amundson and Lebron James, in that regard, is that Lebron James executes such maneuvers on a consistent and regular basis, while Lou Amundson may do it on special occasions, like when you’re Great Uncle Albert suddenly busts out a series of highly coordinated dance moves at the family reunion after one too many sangrias. It’s in that 90-year old body somewhere, but it’s not meant to be a regular feature of his life….for everyone’s safety.

The Knicks, as a team, demonstrate this maddening tendency a lot. They have players up and down the roster who possess the talent to execute delicious and savory basketballing, but few who can put together a whole game of the stuff, let alone a stretch of games. I’d point to Arron Afflalo as exhibit A in this maddening aspect. Afflalo once averaged around 18 points a game for the Orlando Magic, something Wally Szczerbiak regularly likes to point out. It’s the kind of terrible flirtation that does a disservice to Afflalo as much as to the fans who cheer for him. It was wonderful that he managed to tap his talent that consistently one year. He was really in the flow. It’s also something he’s never been able to duplicate again, nor should anyone expect him to. Afflalo is the type of player who can get hot and drop a bunch of lovely 20-30 point games in a row, but is doomed to disappear from time to time. Looking at player game logs can sometimes illustrate the level of consistency that defines the truly dominant players in the league, even when they’re second fiddles. A guy who you can count on for 12-15 points a game every night is sometimes better than the guy who can win you three in a row, but fail to show up the next home stand.

The Knicks are really a club of Arron Afflalos. There’s a tantalizing amount of talent spread around the team as it’s presently constructed, but very little consistently. Derrick Williams can go on a roll as he did against Detroit and take over a game. He might also go two weeks without another such outburst. Kyle O’Quinn might put together three or four straight games of tough defense, effective rebounding, and beardy intimidation, but he also forces Fisher to pull him when he starts whipping the ball around with his no look passes and risky outlets. Galloway started the season red hot and reminded us of his inspiring potential as an undrafted gem, but he’s been bad for the bulk of the season and he’s really running on hope in the Knicks rotation more than anything else. You see a glimmer of his finishing at the rim, transition defense, or nifty entry passing, but you also see him flop around quite a bit and miss wide open shots. I could go on…

The Hawks are a top ball club precisely because they have several key players who bring it every night. They bring effort, intelligence, and consistent results. Horford and Millsap are consistent and reliable. Teague has become much more consistent in most areas of the game, and while he’s struggling at the moment, Kyle Korver has been remarkably consistent from three point range in his career. He just keeps hitting them, game after game after game. Clockwork.

I would argue that the Hawks are nearly as consistent, either individually or as a team, as the elite clubs in the NBA. They’re good enough, smart enough, and consistent enough for people to like them, just like Stuart Smalley. Yeah…I’m going with that. The Hawks are the Stuart Smalley of the NBA. The Knicks play Jekyll and Hyde as a team for stretches, and the main reason is that they’re a team of Jekyll and Hyde talents. That’s not something that the team is going to solve during 2015-16, so it would seem that we’re doomed to watch a lot of games like the Chicago affair. Awful for stretches. Transcendent for stretches. Not enough in the end to beat good teams. The key for the Knicks is to be able to sustain their talent for longer than a couple of quarters, and then sustain that game-long excellence for several games in a row. They’re going to disappear for a week at a time, but you want to see them maximize what they have and knock off a few really good teams in the process. Right now, standing in front of them, is a back to back against a good, consistent, talented group of Hawks and the Knicks better get their focus on quick, or this is going to be very, very ugly.

Keep your fingers crossed friends. Let’s go Knicks.

Liked it? Take a second to support mikeplugh on Patreon!

94 thoughts to “Game Thread: Knicks vs. Atlanta”

  1. Boston loses consecutive home games to the Lakers and Nets.

    That Brad Stevens is one shitty coach.

  2. A Boston loss to the Nets has to hit doubly hard, since they have Brooklyn’s pick.

    Lottery-wise, I’m trying to figure out what’s the best result for my fandom. I want the Lakers to keep their pick so the 76ers don’t get better, but I’d be annoyed if they get Ben Simmons immediately after Kobe retires. And I obviously don’t want the Celtics or anyone else in the East to get Simmons. So… a Pelicans lottery win? Nuggets win the lottery with their own pick, thus rendering the pick swap from the Melo trade less annoying?

    (Though, come to think of it, the only scenario where the Bargs trade is even vaguely palatable in hindsight is one where our pick wins the lottery, and immediately goes to Denver due to the swap. If we’re losing that pick, it’s mortifying. If Toronto is losing it? Well… no, it’s still one of the worst trades ever made. Carry on.)

  3. It’s still quite depressing thinking about how we won’t have a draft pick this year because some people thought it was a good idea to give a first round draft pick and 2 second rounders for the services of the great Andrea Bargnani. How in the world did Masai Ujiri even fleece Glen Grunwald that badly?!

  4. How in the world did Masai Ujiri even fleece Glen Grunwald that badly?!

    It’s got to be a great story. I look forward to the 30 for 30 show on it.

    Either that or it’s one of two more boring, though more likely possibilities:

    1) Grunwald was an idiot.

    2) Grunwald wasn’t an idiot, but Dolan is.

    Personally, my money is on #2.

  5. Yeah…I hadn’t intended for this to go up today, but sometimes these things happen. We’re going to be thinking a lot about the Hawks for the next several days, so I guess the Knickerblogger system decided to get the ball rolling early. ;)

  6. It’s probably an epic tale involving JD and the Straight Shot, Italian pasta, and YouTube videos of Bargnani highlights. Anything less such as Grunwald/Dolan being an idiot would be an unsurprising, yet totally disappointing story.

    Since we traded for Bargnani Roy Hibbert has never bothered the Knicks again

    Mission Accomplished boys. #TakethatHibbert

  7. Draymond Green tonight :29 points (10-16 FG), 17 rebounds, 14 assists, 4 steals

    That’s kind of a good game.

  8. He good.

    I kind of feel like Green will burn out. I feel like his body type and skill set has a short shelf life.

    But those numbers are eye-popping.

  9. Some of the players selected before Green (35th pick)s in the 2012 draft:

    John Jenkins
    Arnett Moultrie
    Fab Melo
    Kendall Marshall
    Marquis Teague

    I know the Spurs got Parker and Ginoboli late in the draft, but has there ever been a pick this late that turned out to be this good?

  10. Tommy Dee still defends that trade and think Bargnani is a good player. Someone explain to me how someone could watch basketball for decades, focus his energy on understanding the sport, defend that trade and think Bargs is a good player, and still have over 10k followers?

  11. Who is Tommy Dee? I have to get a look at this

    He used to have a popular Knicks forum. Now he’s on Twitter and does podcasts. He presents himself as some sort of independent scout and has hinted at having some access to what’s going on at MSG. He seems to put a lot of weight on points per game (without much consideration for efficiency), highly athletic plays, and watching games. He’s also somewhat anti advanced stats. To me he’s sort of a basketball anti-Christ. He’s nice enough, but when I read his stuff it’s like someone asked my opinion and then said the opposite.

  12. Someone explain to me how someone could watch basketball for decades, focus his energy on understanding the sport, defend that trade and think Bargs is a good player, and still have over 10k followers?

    Go to the introductory course at a public university and write down the comments by the dumbest students in that class. Then remember that getting into that school means the student is still smarter than a full half of American adults.

  13. 1) Grunwald was an idiot.

    2) Grunwald wasn’t an idiot, but Dolan is.

    1. These guys make too much money in salary so bribery is probably out. (I’m from a 3rd world country, this is how things work here.)

    2. Grunwald has a personal vendetta against NY. The sinister story of a basketball exec with a dark soul.

    3. Some super agent has a personal vendetta against Dolan. An astounding tale about a guy with humble roots and his contempt for the super rich.

  14. Some super agent has a personal vendetta against Dolan.

    That Super Agent has a name. It’s Leon Rose, Andrea Bargnani’s agent, and the man that also brought us MegaMaxMelo, JR Smith, and Eddy Curry.

  15. That Super Agent has a name. It’s Leon Rose, Andrea Bargnani’s agent, and the man that also brought us MegaMaxMelo, JR Smith, and Eddy Curry.

    Wow. Let’s hope Phil bans him from MSG.

  16. Wow. Three picks by Fitz for the Jets in the 4th quarter. Killer.

    So far, the Knicks seem to be responding to Fisher’s public scolding of their effort recently, esp. on D.

  17. I just switched from the Jetsappointent and see the Knicks playing against men in 1920s swimsuits. Wth?

  18. I just got done watching Coughlins last game as Giants coach. I’ll be here with my regular bad commentary now.

  19. Up by ten and Melo is throwing the ball around after the buzzer. I like it. Need more passion like that.

  20. Whenever Afflalo goes on a tear in a game like he is today, it exposes just how much of a jump shooting team we are. It’s ok to be a jump shooting team if you have great ball movement and a Durant or Curry. And I like Afflalo just fine on this team. However, as much as I appreciate Calderon’s shooting touch and veteran influence at the 1, especially with Grant and Galloway behind him, we need to dump him for Jennings. If he’s healthy. I know some of yal are gonna kill me on this thread for this idea, but think about it. He and Lawson are the only 2 penetrating, starting caliber PG’s that can take over a game if needed that Phil can get on the cheap. We really need that next to Afflalo. Plus he won’t effect this coming offseason’s cap room. If he plays well enough to be re-signed, then that’s great as I don’t expect him to make a ton of money on the open market. If he doesn’t, then that’s great as well as it forces Fish to develop Grant instead of playing him inconsistent minutes when he’s the only PG on the roster that can consistently get in the lane and create for others. Lawson makes too much money for the headache and he’s not really playing well. He may do better with a change of scenery, but it should be easier to trade for Jennings. Having a PG out there who can peneytrate and create for others will change the dynamic of the offense, and make things easier for KP and Melo.

  21. Clash,
    I think so with such a young team and Jackson firmly entrenched at the 1. Or at least I would hope so.

  22. Melo needs to take more jump shots after practice or something. We need him to get out of this shooting funk.

  23. We might be able to convince them to give us Westbrook for a front office role for THCJ. He can teach them about advanced stats.

  24. Jose for Jennings as a way to dump Jose’s salary is fine; as a plan to acquire a mediocre at best PG coming off a ruptured achilles it is bad.

  25. DRed,
    I wouldn’t mind taking a gamble on Jennings while simultaneously dumping salary. He does bring something the team needs. At this rate, Calderon will probably only be good for the team coming off the bench next season. Problem with that is, Fisher isn’t developing his replacement- whether he’s on the NY roster or in Westchester. So Calderon for Jennings is probably the one dumb move that is likely to work. I’m not a Jennings fan, but I see it as a possible low risk/high reward move.

  26. I’m all for dumping his salary also. There’s going to be so much cap space out there though I’d rather get a second round pick for him.

  27. Is it just me or is Afflalos main talent that he’s pretty good at taking and making horrible shots

  28. Is it just me or is Afflalos main talent that he’s pretty good at taking and making horrible shots

    It looks so off-balance, but he’s got 36 and I’m on my couch so

  29. Much better job of defending the 3 (announcers just pointed it out, although they just left Millsap open)

  30. Bazemore auditioning for a contract with the Knicks this offseason

    Wouldn’t mind taking a look at Schroeder either

  31. Or..maybe the team can move Calderon to a team ISO a vet PG for their bench in a salary dump, start Galloway, and call Jimmer up and let him & Grant share 2nd string backcourt duties. I wouldn’t mind that either

  32. I just want draft picks of some sort for Calderon because rookie contracts have a ton of trade value for the future.

  33. Wouldn’t mind taking a look at Schroeder either

    I mentioned this in the last Atl thread. I think he could be gotten for relatively cheap.

  34. Kendrick Lamar is going to have to write another song about Arron Afflalo after this game.

  35. I just want draft picks of some sort for Calderon because rookie contracts have a ton of trade value for the future.

    Or maybe we keep the rookies because they have so much value? Just a thought. At least, if they’re good.

  36. Obviously not a win built on any sustainable performance, but fuck it. Nice to have a guard on the Knicks go off like he was playing the Knicks

  37. For as bad as the Knicks played at home to start the season they are now over .500 at home. Granted its just 9-8 but its something positive. This 11 game stretch has been as ugly as we feared it would be but the Knicks have won enough games to not make it a total catastrophe. Granted they have 3 more road games (in 4 days) next week that could be pretty brutal.

  38. Bazemore is getting Demarre Carroll $ for sure. there will be so many $ out there this summer that the contracts will look totally ridiculous.

    great game – got to watch bits and pieces. Best thing about Afflalo’s game was that pretty much they were all good shots. open 3’s and/or his usual post-up moves.
    And I love that Melo had a nice all around game and was rewarded for it with a great W for the team.

Comments are closed.